Disclaimer: this text is not an academic treatise of a serious topic. So, if you complain about emotional and unreasonable arguing – “lavabo in innocentia manus meas”!
After a long and intensive period of paper-writing I feel a certain emptiness inside me now that I sent in all my assignments. And how to better fill this emptiness than by writing a semi-scientific (probably a lot less than semi, to be honest) hybrid between an essay and a rant? Come on, I can’t be the only person who considers this a good way to spend their holiday! Right? Riiiight?!
The subject of my exploration is a certain type of human who can very well be described with the help of this lovely painting by John William Waterhouse picturing Narcissus and Echo (yo, Greek mythology, man!): the self-involved talker. To avoid misunderstanding, I do not state that self-involved talkers are generally narcissists. Nevertheless, the picture perfectly incorporates what this type of person is about: they see conversations with other people as a stage for incessant self-reflection. In other words, they merely converse with other people to talk about themselves. You have to imagine a conversation with a self-involved talker as pictured in the painting: for those people, talking to you is a way to admire themselves in the mirror that is your persona while you sit across them with one of your boobs out longing for a chance to speak, slowly realizing that it will never come. This is not to say that the self-involved talker will never let you speak. However, if you’re not commenting on his/her statements, those people are incredibly skilled at turning the conversation around to talk about themselves again. Example:
I: “Yeah, I guess everybody is bitter about something in their lives!”
Self-involved talker: “Speaking of bitter, you know what else is bitter? Coffee! Did I already mention that I took a barista class a few years back? [continues endlessly]”*
Interestingly, the self-involved talker is not necessarily concerned with polishing his/her own ego, although that’s certainly a part of it. However, to gain attention they will even go as far as to make themselves look really bad as long as they can keep everyone focused on them. For instance, they’ll go as far as making themselves very unpopular with their hosts as long as they can make sure that no one misses how adorably eccentric they are:
Me: “Here’s your bedroom, I hope it’s okay!”
Self-involved talker: “Oh, this room isn’t oriented towards east? What a shame! I like waking up by the feeling of the morning sunrays stroking my rosy cheeks. [Continues to explain his habit of sleeping in rooms with windows towards the east while you feel the urge to rip his head off.]”*
Now, not every person who talks a lot can be considered a self-involved talker. What marks self-involved talkers is the fact that they’re utterly disinterested in their counterparts. If you’re the counterpart of a self-involved talker, the only thing (s)he expects of you is to listen attentively to everything (s)he is saying. And you better listen to them otherwise their mood can turn sour pretty quickly! My first experiences with self-involved talkers caused huge self-doubts for my part. I thought that their disinterest was based on me being a really boring person. However, upon further observation, I realized that it wasn’t just me. In general, they were blatantly disinterested in listening to anyone, no matter how intriguing the person. I think they’d even manage to make a conversation with Abraham Lincoln all about themselves!
Now, the question to ask is: how do such individuals come into existence? Maybe you can blame it on the parents: they might have given their children the impression that telling them how special and wonderful they are is not just the nice lie all parents tell their children but actually the truth. On the other hand, they might have never given their child enough attention, so that, as an adult, their son or daughter has developed into an attention-junkie. Another assumption with regard to this issue is that self-involved talkers might simply not realize how self-involved they are. They probably think that their way to converse is completely legitimate. So, it might be a good idea to simply ask them to shut the f–– up and start listening to other people!
A last question that I feel forced to address concerning the issue: am I a self-involved talker myself? After all, I’ve written all this stuff and never let anyone else speak than myself. Well, I can easily dispel this suspicion by asking: so, how do YOU think about this topic? What are YOUR thoughts on self-involved talkers? I’d be REALLY interested to know!
*These examples are… um… completely fictional and… um… any similarities with real-life events are… um… entirely coincidental *coughcough*